After early stints in the British pub rock band Brinsley Schwartz, and then with Dave Edmunds and Rockpile, Nick Lowe has maintained a long career as a solo artist, producer, and songwriter. Married to Johnny Cash’s stepdaughter Carlene for a while, Nick wrote The Beast In Me for Johnny which launched Cash back into the spotlight. His lyrics have matured from his early pure pop stuff like I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass to what can best be described as short stories of a sort of down on his luck chap who has been through and seen it all as in I’m A Mess. So without further ado, my Top 5 Nick Lowe songs - plus a bonus Grooveshark playlist so you can listen along while you read.
She’s Got Soul
Taken from 2001’s The Convincer album, Nick sings over a bouncy beat:
I've just met what could be
The making of me
She's got soul
She's got soul
Throughout the song you really start to feel a kinship with the man and that is what makes Lowe a great writer. He doesn’t clutter his work but gets his points across, Elvis Costello called him England's greatest lyricist recently.
I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass
Taken from his solo debut album Jesus Of Cool in 1978, this is pop magic with an unbelievable piano behind Nick’s lyrics.
I love the sound of breaking glass
Especially when I'm lonely
I need the noises of destruction
When there's nothing new
Oh nothing new, sound of breaking glass
Cruel To Be Kind
This is from the second album, Labour of Lust and was a major US success, and was again produced by Nick as well. His studio work was beginning to take over most of his time after this album as he was producing several other of the top UK artists at the time. Cruel is another regular Joe story of tale of a woman’s infidelity:
And when I ask you to explain
You say you gotta be
Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it's a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind
All Men Are Liars
This song comes from his Party Of One album released in 1990 and produced by long time friend and collaborator Dave Edmunds. This is one of Nick’s bouncy songs that gets you right from the start and doesn't let go. Nick is just telling like it is in this tune where he actually Rickrolls everyone before anybody even thought about it with his diss of Rick Astley :
All Men, All Men are liars, their words ain't worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth, all men are liars and that's the truth.
Do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit that was ghastly.
He said I'm never gonna give you up or let you down.
Well I'm here to tell ya that Dick's a clown
Though he was just a boy when he made that vow.
I'd bet it all that he knows by now.
I’m A Mess
This is my number one and it is from his album The Convincer produced in 2001, I had over time lost track of old Nick and was turned on to this album by a friend. After I heard this song I went out and bought the remaining albums to fill out his career and listened to each of them to get a sense of what had been happening in his life. It is the Nick Lowe everyman again singing and wondering what happened to his life:
I'm a mess
I should be filling rooms
with the sweet smell of success
I'm a mess, look at what I've been reduced to
I don't blame you for saying no
when you should have answered yes
But darling, darling, darling,
look at me now
I'm a mess
I’m sure that over the years Nick has referenced his own life in his stories and this one really makes you feel for him. He is still recording and doing limited appearances so catch him or buy his music you will not be disappointed.